RSSAll Entries Tagged With: "margaret gray"

ALMOST, MAINE (HUDSON MAINSTAGE): 100% - SWEET

ALMOST, MAINE (HUDSON MAINSTAGE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Director Papazian serves up a slick and delectable series of comic turns, and he has assembled a cast of 18 accomplished actors for the occasion. All of them acquit themselves with charm and style. Neal Weaver – Stage Raw SWEET Play don’t get any more magical, nor any more unabashedly romantic (with just enough […]

TRAIN TO ZAKOPANE: 88% - SWEET

TRAIN TO ZAKOPANE: 88% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The script could stand a vigorous pruning, several performances are still wobbly and the set changes are noticeably time-consuming — yet this production, directed by Gary Imhoff, has promise. Margaret Gray – LA Times BITTERSWEET The most challenging performance is Frederick’s, whose abrupt shifts between Katia’s ugly outbursts of anti-Semitic bigotry and the more […]

KINKY BOOTS (PANTAGES THEATRE): 85% - SWEET

KINKY BOOTS (PANTAGES THEATRE): 85% – SWEET

SWEET Although I tend to be skeptical about the power of any garment to effect lasting spiritual change, all those stilettos evidently tenderized me to a pulp: I drove home beaming, filled with affection for the characters and all but convinced that wearing thigh-high red leather boots is the manliest thing a guy can do. […]

UPLOADED: 90% - SWEET

UPLOADED: 90% – SWEET

SWEET Gordon’s skewering of these three earnest, dopey Gen Y-ers is sharp and often quite witty. (One of Anikka’s several businesses is making “kombucha cozies for orthodox Jewish women.”) They’re so satirically drawn that it’s impossible to believe in them (or maybe I just didn’t want to), but somehow they’re still entertaining; and the far-fetched […]

ENRIQUE'S JOURNEY (ENCUENTRO 2014): 83% - SWEET

ENRIQUE’S JOURNEY (ENCUENTRO 2014): 83% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The script could be further trimmed: the opening takes up more time than it needs to and Enrique’s repeated hardships start to run together. For a story so grounded in grim realism, it has been given an unpersuasively upbeat ending. But Guerrero’s Enrique is a compelling, complex protagonist and his painful journey is worth […]

FOREVER: 67% - BITTERSWEET

FOREVER: 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET From a theatrical perspective, unmodulated rage works best in small doses; too much of it stuns the senses. Subtler moments, as when she confesses her dreams of marrying the Irish cop who was kind to her after her rape, can be more effective. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET Forever concludes with the death […]

NICE THINGS: 75% - BITTERSWEET

NICE THINGS: 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Director Elina de Santos turns in a polished production (on Sephanie Kerley Schwartz’s sleek, sliding-panel set), but the play’s meandering pace and easy affirmations undercut both the energy and the urgency of Melocchi’s message — namely, how the basic struggle for economic survival can bring home the distant tragedy of foreign war. Bill Raden […]

THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL (AHMANSON THEATRE): 97% - SWEET

THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL (AHMANSON THEATRE): 97% – SWEET

SWEET Ultimately, what makes this harrowing “Trip” endurable, even uplifting, is Carrie’s hard-won humor and wisdom, and the peace she is able to make with her own unhappiness before she is caught and marched back to Houston. “There are worse things,” she dryly retorts when the sheriff reflects on her childhood friend’s “lonely death alone […]

BRONIES! THE MUSICAL: 100% - SWEET

BRONIES! THE MUSICAL: 100% – SWEET

SWEET The charming musical-in-the-rough that was Bronies: The Musical at this past summer’s Hollywood Fringe Festival has since been polished into the sparklingly rainbow-hued gem now getting its official World Premiere Production at the Third Street Theatre. Simply put, Bronies: The Musical is the feel-best show in town. Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA SWEET Under the […]

KISS ME, KATE (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 89% - SWEET

KISS ME, KATE (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 89% – SWEET

SWEET “Let’s Make a Deal’s” Wayne Brady as the lead in a revival of “Kiss Me, Kate”: It almost sounds like an especially wacky draft in some fantasy stunt-casting league for theater directors. Sheldon Epps of the Pasadena Playhouse has not only made it happen, he has used it as the inspiration for an ingenious […]

COCK: 95% - SWEET

COCK: 95% – SWEET

SWEET The ideal convergence of Mike Bartlett’s incredibly realistic script vividly emoted by the very talented four member cast, as tightly directed by Cameron Watson, make for a totally engrossing 90 minutes. Gil Kaan – BroadwayWorld SWEET Only a highly talented group of actors could deliver the play’s potent message, and the cast at the […]

EQUIVOCATION (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 89% - SWEET

EQUIVOCATION (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 89% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET And while Peebler and his muscular ensemble prove expert at seductively selling Cain’s quasi-historical premise, his audience-flattering allusions and lively turns of phrase, it does not take long for the troubling hollowness masked by such glibness to make itself felt. Perhaps the most problematic aspect of the entire enterprise is Cain’s primary suspense device […]

THE LIFE AND SORT OF DEATH OF ERIC ARGYLE (SON OF SEMELE): 90% - SWEET

THE LIFE AND SORT OF DEATH OF ERIC ARGYLE (SON OF SEMELE): 90% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET I teetered early on the verge of boredom, staved off by the fine production until the last twenty minutes, the end a foregone conclusion in a play that just wouldn’t stop chattering. Jason Rohrer – Stage and Cinema SWEET Eventually there’s a twist to the story that, along with the play’s heavy exposition, did […]

TRYING (INTERNATIONAL CITY THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

TRYING (INTERNATIONAL CITY THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET What the script lacks in surprises, it makes up for in its nuanced, beautifully written portrait of Biddle, an inestimable gift to an actor, and one that the wonderful Abatemarco, under the skillful direction of John Henry Davis, exploits to the fullest. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET Long Beach’s International City Theatre (ICT) […]

REASONS TO BE PRETTY (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 75% - BITTERSWEET

REASONS TO BE PRETTY (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 75% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Director Randall Arney deftly captures every nuance in the relationships and their unfolding. He keeps the comedy flowing, the realizations only gradually emerging. And he has assembled a terrific cast, knowing and expert. Neal Weaver – ArtsInLA BITTERSWEET It isn’t a bad play, by any means. The set design is detailed and nails the […]

VISIONARY MAN: 73% - BITTERSWEET

VISIONARY MAN: 73% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET “Visionary Man” currently at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood’s Theatre Row is a powerful, brilliant yet warm and fun show depicting the amazing life of the fascinating materially poor but spiritually rich Georgia dirt farmer turned world renown painter J. B. Murray. Ron Irwin – LA Examiner SWEET Director Tom Coleman, who co-wrote the […]

THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT: 78% - SWEET

THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT: 78% – SWEET

SWEET There’s a lot to enjoy in this romantic comedy and it’s a show you might just fall in love with. Sandro Monetti – Thespian Thoughts BITTER It’s all been done before, and no amount of frantic running in and out of doors is going to bring this material back to life. Kurt Gardner – […]

THE BROTHERS SIZE (FOUNTAIN THEATRE): 97% - SWEET

THE BROTHERS SIZE (FOUNTAIN THEATRE): 97% – SWEET

SWEET The battle over Oshoosi’s fate plays out with thrilling immediacy in this staging by Shirley Jo Finney, who also directed “In the Red and Brown Water” at the Fountain. She is ably assisted by Hana S. Kim’s evocative, abstract set, Ameenah Kaplan’s powerful choreography, Peter Bayne’s original music arranged by Brenda Lee Eager, and […]

HIT: 80% - SWEET

HIT: 80% – SWEET

BITTER The new play Hit by Alice Tuan, currently playing Los Angeles Theatre Center, unevenly shifts from hard-hitting drama to black comedy to avant-garde theater yet never makes clear its intentions. And though the actors are skilled professionals, they are not able to make the script’s unlikable characters relatable. Jonas Schwartz – TheaterMania BITTERSWEET Still, […]

UNORGANIZED CRIME: 88% - SWEET

UNORGANIZED CRIME: 88% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The ending, though bold, is disappointing: There’s the sense that D’Aquila wasn’t quite sure what to do with his entertaining characters once he’d gotten them all onstage. His writing and performance make Gino, especially, a sympathetic and interesting antihero who may deserve a better story than he gets. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET […]

FIVE MILE LAKE (SOUTH COAST REP): 85% - SWEET

FIVE MILE LAKE (SOUTH COAST REP): 85% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Rachel Bonds’ new drama about small-town concerns is promising but needs fleshing out. Paul Hodgins – OC Register SWEET Regardless of the flaws, Bonds does prove that she is a match for her SCR contemporaries on the Argyros stage. Hopefully, she will create another draft that will result in Five Mile Lake fulfilling its […]

EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH: 82% - SWEET

EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH: 82% – SWEET

SWEET The performances, particularly of the two leads, are confident, nuanced and memorable. And the rich sensory feast Kubzansky and her team have served up — which also includes lighting by Jeremy Pivnick, sound by John Zalewski and witty props by John Burton — is a powerful reminder of why beauty, heartless though it may […]

WHITE MARRIAGE (ODYSSEY THEATRE): 75% - BITTERSWEET

WHITE MARRIAGE (ODYSSEY THEATRE): 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Performances from the strong 11-member company are first rate, and Sossi directs his cast to play the lengthy, absurdist drama for maximum laughs. Yet there is a dark and disturbing undercurrent flowing beneath the allegorical farce that only fully emerges in the play’s final, devastating moments. What’s missing throughout is a sense of rising […]

PAUL ROBESON (EBONY REP): 75% - BITTERSWEET

PAUL ROBESON (EBONY REP): 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The least effective scene is an unnecessarily thorough reenactment of Robeson’s appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee, with Smith asking the questions from the piano bench. The slack direction and unfocused storytelling render a potentially dynamic sequence tedious, bombastic and repetitive. The reliance on history that charges “Paul Robeson” ultimately proves its undoing. […]

HENRY V (PACIFIC RESIDENT THEATRE): 91% - SWEET

HENRY V (PACIFIC RESIDENT THEATRE): 91% – SWEET

SWEET I left the Pacific production in Venice with the feeling that I had just seen a rich and complex tale unfold before my eyes. Don Shirley – LA Observed BITTER In theory, it’s a fascinating concept. But among Henry V’s many virtues is the script’s tight construction. And the cost to the staging’s energy […]

SLOWGIRL (GEFFEN): 85% - SWEET

SLOWGIRL (GEFFEN): 85% – SWEET

SWEET But Pierce has caught the rhythms of teenage girl-speak, and Gray, a credentialed actress and University of Chicago student (no relation to this reviewer) revels in them. Her wonderfully gravelly voice and quirky delivery make Becky thoroughly entertaining. And the characters’ developing bond despite their differences is touching and persuasive. Margaret Gray – LA […]

STAND-OFF AT HWY #37: 80% - SWEET

STAND-OFF AT HWY #37: 80% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Although director Jon Lawrence Rivera keeps the polished production — with an appealing set by Jeff McLaughlin, projections by Adam Flemming and sound by Cricket S. Myers — clipping along smoothly, the characters never really develop beyond interesting types. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET Aunt Bev’s exposition as the curtain lifts and before […]

DERBY DAY: 100% - SWEET

DERBY DAY: 100% – SWEET

SWEET Silberman, Madera and Foster are to be commended for their ability to share these men first as suited and somewhat upstanding citizens and then take us with them as they sink into the depths of depravity in their souls. Each actor was fully engaged in their characters, even as the many items were thrown […]

SEX AND EDUCATION (COLONY THEATRE): 74% - BITTERSWEET

SEX AND EDUCATION (COLONY THEATRE): 74% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Although the plot is nearly as implausible as this bald synopsis implies, and although in another play Miss Edwards’ behavior might invite a lawsuit, neither concern, somehow, is obtrusive here. Director Andrew Barnicle establishes a brisk, good-humored pace that enables him to sidestep every sand trap and land mine. Margaret Gray – LA Times […]

FIREMEN: 93% - SWEET

FIREMEN: 93% – SWEET

SWEET Director Chris Fields’ stylishly sleight-of-hand staging (eloquently accented by Matt Richter’s dynamic lights) and a disarmingly appealing ensemble (including Amanda Saunders and Zach Callison) strike just the right balance between uneasy laughter and unpalatable titillation to drive home Smith’s unsettling portrait of a society whose most endangered species may be the moral and emotional […]